Transsexuals, from "passing" to radical assimilation

My focus on resources for young transitioners and on social acceptance has allowed me to correspond extensively with the "deep stealth," or completely assimilated and non-disclosing portion of the trans community.

One of the primary issues BBL brings up is the rift between "gender separatists" versus the assimilationists. Gender separatists are interested in living within a closed community, a subculture. They can't or won't adopt the values and aesthetics of the dominiant culture in which they exist, or they seek to preserve something unique or different about this subculture that they feel has value. Assimilationists are interested in acceptance as female within mainstream society, and many women in transition who desire to achieve this level of acceptance find it an elusive goal. For some, the price of silence is too high, but for others, it is simply not possible due to appearance and socialization issues.

Unfortunately, our community and society at large places a heirarchy based on level of acceptance, which leads some visibly gender variant and unassimilated people to feel inadequate or resentful of being relegated to an "inferior" status.

I will be writing a Transcendence essay on this topic in 2004.


Further reading

Passing: When People Can't Be Who They Are
by Brooke Kroeger

Through the provocative stories of six contemporary "passers," and examples from history and literature, a renowned journalist illuminates passing as a strategy for bypassing prejudice and injustice.

Despite the many social changes of the last half-century, many Americans still "pass": black for white, gay for straight, and now in many new ways as well. We tend to think of passing in negative terms--as deceitful, cowardly, a betrayal of one's self. But this compassionate book reveals that many passers today are people of good heart and purpose whose decision to pass is an attempt to bypass injustice, and to be more truly themselves.
Passing tells the poignant, complicated life stories of a black man who passed as a white Jew; a white woman who passed for black; a working class Puerto Rican who passes for privileged; a gay, Conservative Jewish seminarian and a lesbian naval officer who passed for straight; and a respected poet who radically shifts persona to write about rock 'n 'roll. The stories, interwoven with others from history, literature, and contemporary life, explore the many forms passing still takes in our culture; the social realities which make it an option; and its logistical, emotional, and moral consequences. We learn that there are still too many institutions, environments, and social situations that force honorable people to twist their lives into painful, deceit-ridden contortions for reasons that do not hold.

Passing is an intellectually absorbing exploration of a phenomenon that has long intrigued scholars, inspired novelists, and made hits of movies like The Crying Game and Boys Don't Cry.